Friday, December 31, 2010

A rose by any name...

Downey Rose Parade float 2011

The float is finally ready for the Rose Parade tomorrow. All the details that were left to the imagination on Tuesday's post are now apparent for all to see. It seems like everyone that has had a part in putting this together is here to see the float off. Some of the volunteers pointed out to us the section that they had worked on. Everyone is rightly proud!

Downey Rose Parade float 2011Downey Rose Parade float 2011

Now it's time to go over the final checklist with the driver. The float will be towed on surface streets from Downey to Pasadena and will travel about 5 miles per hour. The trip will take 5 to 6 hours.

I assume the champagne is for the arrival in Pasadena.

Downey Rose Parade float 2011Final checklist 2011

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New beginnings

“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” Bill Vaughn

I always feel a sense of urgency at the end of every year. I think of all the stuff I didn't get to do, or rather, didn't get around to doing because I put it off. But the new year means new beginnings. A clean slate. A new opportunity. Righting the wrongs and all that optimistic jazz. Like all the cartoons depict the new year as a brand new baby, I thought I could do the same. It's cuter that way.


So I lift my glass to us world, and the chance that this year, we'll get it right.

Also, the Rives mansion updates will begin in the new year. We are taking a short break while we show you the immediate goings on of Downey!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Using the past for the future


"Think of all the possibilities for the future!" That was the theme of this tour of the "Rives Mansion." As soon as I stepped onto the grounds, however, I felt thrown back into time. Although there was new paint on the walls, the tiny details remained untouched. I can picture ladies in the drawing room and the servants running up and down the back stairs and lovers dancing in the ball room on the third floor.

DSC_0759The owners have taken precaution to assure the integrity of the home is still present while modernizing the necessary updates. Its not perfect yet; there are holes in places and creaks and a few people believe there to be ghosts... I, for one, did not see any.

The idea is to keep the mansion as a privately owned property and lease it out commercially to people with visions that would bring in business to Downtown Downey. Imagine a Bed and Breakfast? Or a Couple's getaway? Or a benefit where everyone is in ball gowns and tuxedos? Just as my head was swimming with ideas, the people surrounding me were throwing out theirs too. It was exciting, being a part of the transition between old and new, respecting the history of the house while planning for the future of the "Casa Blanca."

Updates to follow.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A stroll down memory lane


IMG_0394"A stroll down memory lane" is the theme for this years' Downey Rose Parade float. Tonight we visited the float barn to see the float for our first time. It was pretty amazing. This years float has a giant gazebo, water fountain, bridge (with a pond), and stone wall.

It was fun to watch volunteers gluing dried peas and seeds to the surfaces.

Although the Rose Parade has been a California tradition since 1890, Downey's first recorded entry was 1913. And, Downey is one of the few communities that still builds its own float with volunteers.

It's down to the finishing touches. Right now the flowers are soaking up as much water as possible. Tomorrow it will be time to start putting the flowers on the float. I think there will need to be more pictures to follow.

I need to also mention, this is our one year anniversary for Downey Daily Photos. We made it! We posted every day for a year.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Just wondering...

Christmas lights

Ever since I noticed the palm frond lights several years ago, from several blocks away, I've driven past this house each Christmas season to marvel at all of the lights. And every year, I wonder...

Did it all start with just a couple of strings of lights? Like maybe twenty years ago, just the roof was outlined? Then someone saw a cute Santa at the store, then a couple of angels... And then, how about wrapping those trees?

And how do they put those frond lights up, anyway?

Just wondering...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The little things

Tree in winter

Tree in winterEvery fall, the trees in the Stonewood Mall parking lot lose their leaves, not to fall, but to the tree trimmer. But in no time at all, the new leaves are sprouting.

It's the little things like this that cheer me up when I get tired of the rain...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

O Holy Night


I recently heard O Holy Night on the radio and was moved to tears by the touching lyrics. Written originally as a poem by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure in 1847, the phrasing is old, but the message is clearly shared.  

O Holy Night, verse 3:
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

It was a good reminder to me because I'm easily distracted by doing, when my focus just needs to be loving those around me...even if the one I need the loving attitude toward is the guy in the car ahead of me who happens to be driving 45 miles per hour on the freeway.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Anniversary Eve!


There has been only one Christmas -- the rest are anniversaries.
W. J. Cameron
At the nativity scene at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Mary and Joseph look down on the baby Jesus.

The baby wasn't actually there last night when I took these pictures. Is that Catholic tradition? Or just protection against vandalism?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It runs fine!


I love old cars and I came across this on one of my walks this week. It's an old Chevy Custom. I'm not sure what year, but it has definitely lived a full life.


I have to admit, one of my favorite parts was the sign..

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Still raining

rain drops
Okay apparently, it isn't raining anymore, but when I was allowed outside on my break, it was hailing, so I thought this was a good shot of what Downey looks like now. No wonder people get depressed during the rainy seasons in other places. Six days of rain is enough for me.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A wine bar in Downey!


A couple of days ago I visited Mari's wine bar. I had been meaning to stop in for the past couple of weeks, and I finally made it!

Just across the street from Porto's, Mari's is a casual, yet elegant setting to hang out with friends over a nice glass of wine. The owners, Mari and Anthony, are down to earth and enjoy their new business. I was glad to find a new place to enjoy in our town.

Monday, December 20, 2010

What lies beneath

Under the street

"Some wires got wet." That's probably a bit simplistic, but it worked for me as an explanation of why 2,800 Verizon customers are without telephone service tonight on our third day of rain. The Verizon crew invited me to take a look at what's under the street while they waited for the night crew to come relieve them.

Verizon workerRepair work

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A break in the rain

Rainy day

We're into our second full day of nearly non-stop rain. Not that it never rains here in southern California — it just doesn't usually rain so continuously for so long. So when it stopped raining this afternoon for a short time, I grabbed the leash and the dog and went for a walk. I was struck by the fall leaves — still colorful, but now a bit soggy.

We didn't go too far though. The streets were so filled with water, we were stuck on our own block.

Rainy dayRainy day

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Santa Woody


Woody goes Santa!

Ever since meeting Woody earlier this year, I find myself going out of my way periodically to to see how he is doing. I did not realize that he might get a change of clothing for Christmas. Not only did Woody get a Santa suit, he got some real cowboy boots! I wonder if any kids wander up on the front porch to whisper their Christmas wish lists in his ear. He even has the Santa "wave" down pat.


You may remember Woody from a previous post in April.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Homeless in Downey


Being homeless when winter is approaching must be miserable business. Even in southern California.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wider angle


I went to Wilderness Park again for a photo shoot and the baby got distracted by all the leaves, the birds, and the grass. The parents kept trying to get her to look at me by shaking a teddy bear and showing her snacks and anything else that would get her attention. I stepped back for a minute to get the whole picture.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Say cheese!


Sometimes, out of the blue, I want to do a photo shoot. And when I do, I grab the first subject in front of me. This one happened to be Erinna. I dressed her up and made her sit pretty while I played with lighting and angles and lenses. Thanks, Erinna for your patience and smiles!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pretty in pink


I'm not sure I'm ready for a pink Christmas tree. Although, my mother would have loved it. She loved pink. And, this tree was not just pink, it had glitter all over it. So when you look closely, it was pretty and sparkly.

It just made me wonder...what kind of snow makes a tree this color? BTW the tree lot where I saw this one also had blue trees.


Monday, December 13, 2010


Stonewood gift card giveaway

1. an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident.

As I wandered around Stonewood Mall last Friday looking for photo ops, I happened upon this random line of people and found out that Stonewood gives away $10 gift cards about once a week during the holiday season.

So after I took my pictures, I got in line.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dead Santa Society


They're out there, everywhere... the Santas that deflate during the day and re-inflate for night time. "Dead" Santas have become a common sight on lawns all over the city. They always seem kinda comical to me, so flattened and unnatural looking. Evidently they are not "day" creatures. So, I guess I have to simply say... "Carpe noctem Santa!"

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fall colors

Fall colors
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
~Albert Camus
The peak time to view fall colors in New England this year was the weekend after Columbus Day. I know this after chatting with a librarian in a small New England town — three weeks later.

It's no wonder, though, that us southern Californians have a hard time keeping track of such things. This year, our leaves are just now starting to turn and drop. This beautiful tree is covered with leaves of green, gold, orange, and red.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Santa Claus is coming to town!

Santa Claus

Santa ClausSanta can be a bit intimidating to little kids, especially sitting up all by himself on his big sofa. But this Santa didn't let that get in the way. When he saw this little girl's hesitation, he was down on one knee in an instant, drawing her in until she was ready to share her deepest secrets.

After the kids moved on, I stayed to chat with Santa about the Santa biz. We talked about how much he enjoys the job, how he's sorry that the season is so short. Then I asked him, "Are you from around here?"

"No," he said, "I'm not local."

"Oh? Where are you from?"

"The North Pole."

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

I love this time of year; even businesses get into the holiday spirit! I passed by the Embassy Suites tonight and had to make a U-Turn to grab this picture of the front entrance.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mess with someone your own size


Some of us think we can take on the giants. This little man was running round and round the bigger one, trying to tackle him.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Warm welcome


I love doors and I love things lit up at night! I drove past these doors last night. They were so appealing, elegant and simple. I like how adding the Christmas lights to the columns gives such a romantic glow to the whole entry way at night. It's one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season to see the glow of Christmas lights in so many neighborhoods.

Monday, December 6, 2010

After hours

Chase Bank

Late at night, the overhead lights and the empty cubicles of the Chase Bank caught my eye.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

School night

school night
I have always had a weird fascination with the "out of the ordinary." A ballerina in the middle of a train station; one single small cloud in the middle of a bright blue sky; and my personal favorite, school at night. Walking down the dark halls, where the familiar becomes out of place, appeals to me so much. Somehow it both calms and energizes me at the same time. Last month, late one evening, I was walking back to my car from a high school football game. This hall jumped out at me on my right and I took a walk down memory lane.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Blue Chevy



Somehow, the vintage Chevys have so much more character than the new ones.

It would probably take a lot of upkeep to maintain this car in it's condition, but it would sure be fun to drive!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Post-WWII housing boom

1950s era houses

I like old stuff. So when I show you a Downey house, it's usually an old house. ("Old," in Downey, means pre-WWII.)

1950s era housesBut Downey changed and grew dramatically after World War II. New housing tracts popped up all over and were quickly snatched up by young families, including my parents. This particular block is typical of the houses built in the 50s. Each house in this 7-house block was nearly identical in floor plan, about 1,100 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. The house in the picture to the right cost my parents $11,440 in December 1950.

Amazingly enough, this particular neighborhood has totally resisted the "McMansion" urge to build up. (See You want to supersize that?) It looks much the same today as it did 60 years ago.